An insider threat is a cyber security risk created by an individual or individuals who have direct access to a company’s IT infrastructure. Let’s Read The Entire Article To Know More About Insider Threats and its prevention.
Such threats can be introduced by people within the company or those working with the company. Individuals responsible for insider threats can include employees, suppliers, vendors, agencies, consultants, collaborators, etc.
The 2022 Data Exposure Report shows that 55% of organizations are concerned about their employees playing a part in cyber attacks. A further 61% of companies admit that they have an insider threat management problem. Organizations from different industries are taking serious measures and allocating significant budgets to mitigate insider threats.
The first step towards Insider Threats and its prevention is to understand them. This article sheds light on different types of Insider Threats and its prevention and cybersecurity measures you can take to counter them.
Types of Insider Threats and its prevention;
To be able to counter insider threats, businesses need to understand their different forms. Let’s take a look at the common types of insider threats. These categories also identify the role an Insider Threats and its prevention.
A negligent internal threat exposes the organization to an attack owing to carelessness. These are the people who are aware of cybersecurity protocols. But, they often ignore them in favor of convenience or lethargy. For example, a work-from-home employee ignores mandatory software updates which contain security patches. Such creates lapses in security infrastructure that is exploited by cyber attackers.
An accidental internal threat unintentionally opens up gaps in security for cyber attackers to exploit. Unlike a negligent internal threat, these types of employees or stakeholders are not careless about cybersecurity. They do not ignore security protocols. The actions are accidental, but such actions can lead to dire consequences. For example, someone mistypes a website URL leading them to a fake malicious site that triggers a malware attack.
Malicious insider threats aim to intentionally weaken the security infrastructure. These bad actors initiate malpractices to damage the organization. They carry out the attack for personal gain or as an act of vengeance against the company. For example, an aggrieved employee would intentionally upload malware on the company’s website information upon termination. Or an employee steals sensitive data intending to sell it for financial gain.
Collusive insider threats act under the authority of or in collaboration with a third party to damage an organization. Such insiders carry out an attack intentionally. They aid external attackers to breach an organization’s security infrastructure. Such attacks may also involve the theft of sensitive information or the opening of access points to initiate cyberattacks. For example, a cyber attacker recruits an employee to collect credit card information. Collusive insider threats are often involved in corporate espionage and sabotage.
Third-party insider threats are external individuals or organizations that have access to important systems, networks, data, facilities, and so on. These are usually vendors or freelancers hired by the organization to carry out certain activities. For example, a marketing agency intentionally injects malware code into a company’s website.
Each of these would play a different role in a cyberattack or corporate espionage. You need different types of security measures in place to safeguard your organization from these threats.
Insider threats take advantage of lapses in security. The best way to nullify insider threats is to reinforce the digital infrastructure. Here are a few ways to identify Insider Threats and its prevention so that one can protect your organization from insider threats.
1. Improve Visibility
Visibility over the digital infrastructure is one of the primary preventive measures against insider threats. You need to monitor and track the activity of different users within your organization. This is all the more important as remote work culture becomes commonplace. Unfortunately, most organizations do not have complete visibility over their IT assets.
Only 24% of companies stated that they have complete IT visibility. The majority of organizations only have partial visibility. Without tracking, you will not be able to identify insider threats. Visibility over user activity not only helps you track insider threats but also serves as a deterrent for potential threats.
2. Track Insider Threat Indicators
Each type of insider attack has some early indicators. If your IT infrastructure offers visibility over different access points and user activity, you can identify the early indicators of insider threats. Here are some indicators suggested by IBM that you should look for when monitoring for Insider Threats and its prevention:
- Deviation from standard activity patterns.
- Unsanctioned access attempts on sensitive data without prior communication.
- Unusual spikes in outbound communications.
- Abnormal data transfers, especially in a large volume.
- Violation of data protection or compliance security protocols.
- Installation of unauthorized software into the organization’s system.
- Disabling firewall protection or antivirus software.
- Accessing irrelevant websites using the organization’s device.
These are indicators of insider threat activity. But, they are not ironclad proof that the user performing these activities is a threat. You can treat such activities as suspicious behavior and scrutinize them to confirm malicious intent.
3. Implement Zero Trust Architecture
You may have looked online at various security frameworks and wondered what is zero trust good for? A zero-trust architecture is a method to secure the IT infrastructure by removing direct access to any system by any user. In this model, the system assumes that all users are compromised. Hence, each access needs to be externally validated.
Additionally, the user is only granted access and control over the most necessary aspects. While most models allow all activities and block selective activity, this model blocks all activities and allows only a select few activities.
This model can help you control the scope of insider breaches. It is also one of the most effective ways to identify prevent negligent and accidental insider threats from falling victim to cyberattacks.
4. Monitor Attack Surfaces
Attack surfaces are access points for cyber attacks. These are used by both internal and external threats to attack the IT infrastructure. In a remote work culture, many of these access points are outside an organization’s control.
These can be turned against the organization by an insider threat. The State of Attack Surface Management Report shows that 67% of organizations have experienced an expansion of attack surfaces post-pandemic. Additionally, 69% of the digital infrastructures could be compromised because of an internet-facing asset that was not adequately secured.
Hence you need to secure and monitor all the attack surfaces of your IT infrastructure, especially those that connect to sensitive data. You can use technologies like CSPM to identify vulnerabilities in your cloud environment. Similarly, you can use ASM tools to secure your internal network. The more attack surfaces you can secure, the more you mitigate an insider threat.
5. Educate Employees & Enforce Protocols
Security protocols help control user activities. Cyberattackers may use lapses in security to trap your employees. For instance, 78% of phishing attacks use CEO email ids to initiate malware attacks. Such traps can be prevented if the organization has well-defined protocols for communication.
You need to educate your employees about potential cyber threats. 96% of companies find that they need to improve their data security training. You specifically need to highlight the consequences of creating lapses in security. This will help you reduce instances of negligence and accidental insider threats.
You also need to stress the importance of protecting user access and authentication methods such as user IDs, passwords, and biometrics. The more actions you can cover under security protocols, the fewer threats you are likely to encounter.
Insider Threats and its prevention is mandatory and can do a lot of damage to your organization. They can breach security, steal data, leak sensitive information, hinder a company’s processes, sabotage brand reputation, and more. A defensive stance is not enough to control insider threats. You need to actively pursue the highest security standards for your organization’s IT infrastructure.
Carl Torrence is a Content Marketer at Marketing Digest. His core expertise lies in developing data-driven content for brands, SaaS businesses, and agencies. In his free time, he enjoys binge-watching time-travel movies and listening to Linkin Park and Coldplay albums.